Definitely a right-brained brain hat

I actually did complete this hat before giving it to M for Christmas 2013, but apparently I can’t find pictures of it (or the kraken hat I made for S the same year), so instead you get this one photo of it with only one side completed:

Definitely right-brained

BTW, I chose the title for this post because of my half-finished picture. But for those of you who don’t know, the whole “right brained / left brained” thing is kind of BS and you might want to read up on it. The myth comes from some research on epileptic patients where the two halves of the brain were severed and they don’t seem to generalize to humans with normally connected brains.

From the article linked above (because I’m not looking up pubmed for a knitting post):

There is a misconception that everything to do with being analytical is confined to one side of the brain, and everything to do with being creative is confined to the opposite side, Anderson said. In fact, it is the connections among all brain regions that enable humans to engage in both creativity and analytical thinking.

“It is not the case that the left hemisphere is associated with logic or reasoning more than the right,” Anderson told LiveScience. “Also, creativity is no more processed in the right hemisphere than the left.”

Anderson’s team examined brain scans of participants ages 7 to 29 while they were resting. They looked at activity in 7,000 brain regions, and examined neural connections within and between these regions. Although they saw pockets of heavy neural traffic in certain key regions, on average, both sides of the brain were essentially equal in their neural networks and connectivity.

(tl;dr: Brains are much more versatile than pop culture might have you believe.)

So there’s your science tidbit for the day. Let’s go back to talking about knitting.

The pattern

Brain Hat (KNITTING PATTERN, not actual hat)
by Alana Noritake
($5 on Ravelry)

This is a pretty simple pattern: make a skullcap, put a lot of i-cord on it. But it’s worth buying yourself a copy of the pattern because it includes a bunch of pictures of the hat in progress and finished, as well as photos of brains and insight on how to make it look good. I definitely felt like I got my $5 worth and had a much better hat for it!

My notes

I made the brain hat for M, who’s allergic to animal fibers, so I was somewhat limited in my choices of yarn. I think I used knitpicks comfy, which is a cotton-acrylic blend that’s quite nice to work with (soft and a little more stretchy than straight cotton). This worked pretty well, to be honest, but doesn’t make for the warmest of hats. This makes it not so great as an all-winter Canada hat, but ok for warmer climates or indoor costume use.

If I did this again again, I’d probably make 50% more brain icord and take more time pinning it to be absolutely perfect. I just didn’t allot quite as much time as I should have before xmas so I was frantically making this on the plane to Ottawa and at my parents’ house before it got packaged up as a present.

Overall, though, a fun pattern and one I’d be happy to make again, given a lot more time or a knitting machine that produced icord.

Twilight Sparkle for Katie

I made this Twilight Sparkle for a friend and then, uh, took a year or something to get it to her. I am the worst at mailing things (in the end, J gave it to her in person and I never mailed it!)

The pattern

This is a pattern I made myself, and this Twilight Sparkle is actually one of the first ponies I made after I had actually published the pattern. (I also have a set of teensy tiny felted ones that I haven’t finished up and photographed yet… someday I’ll get through my backlog of projects to document!)

[Crochet Pony Pattern inspired by My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on my website (toybox.ca)]
[Crochet Pony Pattern inspired by My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on Ravelry]

(You can tell it’s been a while because she’s still just a unicorn!)

Photos

Since I wrote the pattern, I don’t have much more to say about it, so here’s a bunch of pictures of the pony!

Body only:

Violet Pony for Katie

I do love that she’s a bit posable….

Violet Pony for Katie

Those legs are surprisingly bendable!

Violet Pony for Katie

If I wanted to her to have a bigger range of positions I could have wired her legs, but this is just the qualities of the yarn and stuffing.

Violet Pony for Katie

Her head also moves, although maybe not as much as the legs

Violet Pony for Katie

And here she is with a mane and tail and cutie mark: I don’t love her eyes (I haven’t found a great way to do them; these were drawn on fabric and sewn on), but she does look more expressive with them!

Twilight Sparkle for Katie

Closer look at her rump so you can see the cutie mark. Or make jokes about butt-shots, whatever.

Twilight Sparkle for Katie

Did you notice what book it is?

Twilight Sparkle for Katie

I chose it for photos because of the colour, but it does seem like something she might enjoy, eh?

Twilight Sparkle for Katie

Maybe one day I’ll do a version with the wings…

Twilight Sparkle for Katie

Or at least one for myself!

Twilight Sparkle for Katie

Overall, my biggest regret on this one was not sending her out sooner. Sorry about the delay, Katie!

February 2015 Knit-a-long: A very belated part 2

You might remember that I posted week 1 and 2 photos from this KAL, but forgot to post the other two weeks of photos and finished object photos here. I finished this back in March at the end of the KAL, so it’s a bit late!

Pattern: Fern Lace Shawlette

Fern Lace Shawlette by Michele Bernstein ($6 on Ravelry)

Michele is also known as PDXKnitterati. This is the first pattern of hers that I tried, but definitely not the last!

Week 3 photos

February 2015 KAL (Week 3))

I don’t normally block as I go like this, but the KAL had prizes for folks who posted photos every week (I even won one early on!), so I wanted them to be beautiful. I actually sort of think I should do this “block at the end of each week” thing a bit more often, since I was forever pulling out the lightly blocked end to admire it or show it off.

February 2015 KAL (Week 3))

The teacup pincushion was made by a friend of mine, isn’t it adorable? She sells them online if you want your own! Just check out Flying Corgi Studio on Etsy.

February 2015 KAL (Week 3)

Week 4 photos

I love those beads! I wasn’t too sure if I’d like having a mix of colours like this, but I really really do.

February 2015 KAL (Week 4)

Look at this week 4 photo… it’s hard to believe I finished in time, but it went so fast once I started decreasing!

February 2015 KAL (Week 4)

Week 5 photos… with the designer!

The designer who created this absolutely lovely pattern was doing a trunk show at Twisted during the Rose City Yarn Crawl, so I scheduled our shop visits so that I’d get to meet her.

February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

She’s a super talented designer, and I highly recommend you check out her other patterns on Ravelry. Her patterns are really well-described, she always has great photos, and good tech editing. And of course, they’re utterly beautiful! She had a few on sale earlier in the year and I bought a few and picked up yarn during the yarn crawl to make them, so expect to see a few more of her designs featured here!

February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

Also, I’ve got to say that I think her knit-a-longs are really fun and well-run. She’s got a great crew of people who participate and I found it super motivational to see everyone’s photos and comments. Plus she keeps the momentum up with weekly prizes and always has good advice if you need it, including for ways to modify and adapt a pattern to suit you better. I haven’t done a lot of knit-a-longs so I can’t really compare, but I can definitely recommend joining one of hers.

Finished Object!

February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

I am so pleased with myself for finishing! I’m not a fast knitter, so I was worried I’d never keep up with the KAL.

February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

And finally, a wingspan shot:

February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

Thanks to my friend M (the same friend who made the teacup pincushion!) for taking the photos with me in them! She’s the best friend: she flew all the way from Ottawa to come to the yarn crawl with me.

Conclusion

Great pattern, great KAL, and I love my finished shawllette. I wasn’t too sure how much I’d wear it, but it turns out that the weather (and sometimes the excessive air conditioning) is surprisingly conducive to shawl-wearing. I got a shawl pin to go with it so I can wrap it around my shoulders and not think about it, so it’s just like having a slightly lighter cardigan.

I think I’ll be making some more shawlettes in the future now that I know how much I like them!

Yarn of the Month Club review, May 2015

Apparently the Yarn of the Month club is *not* a secret society after all: there’s a Yarn of the Month Ravelry group. I am so pleased to know it exists, and mystified as to why I couldn’t find this when I was searching for information before subscribing.

May’s Yarn of the Month Club package was all about the cottons and the ocean colours:

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Very pretty yarns, all told!

The Pattern: Seaside Tee by Sarah Lucas

Ravelry link for Sarah Lucas, but this particular pattern doesn’t seem to be on Rav.

Here’s a picture of the pattern page:
Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

I’ve redacted much of the actual pattern, but I wanted to show you the state of the mailing since I’ve talked about it a few times. The cut across the top is my fault (overzealous in opening the package!) but those sheets of paper really do get crumpled up in the mail, don’t they?

Anyhow, this is a cute baby pattern with a picture of a cute baby. I like the wide neckline and use of the patterned and solid yarns. I don’t think it’s going to the top of my to-make list since I just made a baby sweater, but it’s a nice thing to have in hand. I wish it had a link in Ravelry so I could dump it in my queue more easily!

Eco Baby Prints

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Debbie Bliss Eco Baby Prints
“With these beautiful liquid colours you can practically smell the beach”
6.25 sts/inch on US 3
100% Cotton
135 yds color 56010

I really love the subtle colour of this one: it’s a very watercolour blue tonal. The yarn is a soft cotton, a bit easy to split but not unmanageable.

The problem here was mostly in the swatch pattern:Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

If you do a bit of math, you’ll see that row 1 grows: there are two yarn overs adding two stitches, but only one k2tog. Row 3 doesn’t fix this, so if you knit it as is, you’d wind up with an ever-growing trapazoid instead of a square. Not great.

I though at first maybe the sl1 was supposed to be passed over the following k1, which at least gets us back to even, but that doesn’t really give you something that lines up. I tried it anyhow to see if it was interesting but it didn’t really do it for me:

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

So I switched it instead so the sl1 became an ssk so that everything lined up, and I got something much more what I had in mind:

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

One remaining complaint, though, it didn’t quite produce a 5×5 square even after blocking. You can see above that it’s almost done but not very close to square yet. I took the photo below at a bit of an angle so it wouldn’t be so obvious, but the finished piece is 4×5 instead of 5×5. Oh well!

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Isn’t the corrected stitch pattern lovely? I’m pretty sure I got it right, since here’s the swatch photo on their website:

Eco Baby Prints swatch from the YOTM website

Eco Baby Prints swatch from the YOTM website

Overall, I love the colour of this yarn and found it pleasant to knit with even when I was a bit frustrated, so it’s something I’d consider buying if I needed a pretty cotton.

Prima Kuri

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Mirasol Prima Kuri
“A solid worsted summer cotton”
5 sts/in on US 6
100% Cotton
208 yds Color: 18

This is a much thicker yarn than the first, but still pretty soft because of the many small strands in the loose twist. As usual, the upside is soft, the downside is splitty here. This seems like a nice workhorse cotton that really shines with textures.

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Just look at how well it shows off the cable of the swatch. Deep texture, nice crisp holes even before blocking.

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Cables and cotton aren’t something I think about together much, since I associate cables with making something thick and warm, and cotton with not being a great insulator. But if I were to make a sweater out of cotton or wanted to add a texture to a summer piece, this yarn would be a great choice.

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015
Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Also, I really liked the swatch pattern and not only because unlike last month’s, it didn’t remind me of nostrils. 😉 As you can tell, this one also wasn’t very square, partially because I didn’t try to stretch it much in blocking. It clocks in at just over 4.25×5.5.

I’m not desperate to make a bunch of textured cotton things so I don’t think I’ll run out to buy this yarn, but if I ever do get the urge, at least I know a yarn that will work!

Cotton Soft

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Mondial Cotton Soft
“Soft and funky colours”
7 sts/in on US 2
100%Cotton
196 yds Color: 0876

First, a few more shots to show you the colours in this ball:
Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015
Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Isn’t that neat? This is another soft cotton, and again, it’s a “many tiny strands in a lose twist” deal, but I found this one a bit more manageable than the others. But obviously what really makes it stand out is that colourway, which is a really neat self-striping pattern that totally evokes beaches.

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

I do wonder exactly what this yarn is intended to be used for, though, given how perfect the stripes look in my 5×5 swatch and that’s a pretty thin width for any real project. Do people knit cotton socks with it, maybe?

Oh, also, I deviated from the swatch recommendation here, sort of. I actually did the swatch as written, but they claimed row 1 was RS and row 7 was WS which, if it was true, would have made this bands of stockinette and seed stitch. But what was written went knit side of the stockinette to seed to purl side to seed and then repeat. I thought this was fun, so i did it that way.

Conclusion

A great batch of samples this month, especially due to the colours!

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

As always, I like that this is introducing me to yarns I hadn’t even heard of before doing the sample: Mondial is an Italian brand, Mirosol is spun in peru. And while Debbie Bliss a name I know because it’s so easy to find here, I hadn’t tried this yarn out, so it was still fun and new to me!

Plus, I don’t know about the rest of you, but as someone who used to get most of her yarn from Michael’s where they only stock one brand of cotton, I’m pretty excited to broaden my cotton horizons.

In summary: I’m feeling very happy I renewed my subscription, and can’t wait for the next mailing to arrive!

Rippy and Chompy the Gators

Rippy and Chompy

These two gators got named Rippy and Chompy after the Arrogant Worms’ classic children’s song Rippy the Gator. The girls who recieved them might give them other names, but I suspect these might stick given how many times their dad and I went to Arrogant Worms shows over the years! For those not familiar with this particular musical gem…

Billy and his family went on a holiday
They went down to Florida to laugh and dance and play
Bill went in for a swim, he didn’t see the harm
But when he came back out again, he was short an arm
‘Cause Rippy the Gator went chomp, chomp, chomp!
Rippy the Gator went chomp, chomp, chomp!
Passing the time by ending children’s lives
Down in the bottom of the swamp, swamp, swamp!

and so on.

The Pattern

Rippy and Chompy

[Baby Gators on Ravelry]
[Baby Gators pattern on Mochimochi land]

One of my complaints about amigurumi patterns is that it’s hard to find ones that really take advantage of the range of textures and shapes that are possible. Now, don’t get me wrong: there’s a lot of cute things you can make with balls and cylinders, like good old Hello Kitty, but when I was working on the My Little Pony-inspired amigurumi pattern I made, I had a lot of trouble finding good techniques for some of the shaping I wanted to do.

So when I saw this creative pattern with the textured stitches and the nostril and eyebrow shaping, I knew I had to try it.

My Notes

Link to my Rippy and Chompy the Gators as a project on Raverly

I used Caron Simply Soft for this, because I like that it’s soft, washable and reasonably hypoallergenic. Since these were going to two kids under the age of two, those are all important things!

One thing that’s interesting about this is that it’s knitting, not crochet. In my experience, knitting tends to be a bit stretchier so knit animals tend to have less interesting shapes because they squish out when they’re stuffed. As a result, I rarely love them the way I like the crochet ones! But this one was cool enough that I wanted to try it anyhow.

You do have to be a bit careful with stuffing this one because of the properties of knitting, though. When I first stuffed the nose, it lost shape and you could barely see the nice nostril shaping, and you can tell if you look at the photos that the tails are different widths. Under-stuff rather than over-stuff on this one.

Rippy and Chompy

The pattern is very clear and easy to read. It’s increases, decreases, knits and purls, with something a bit fancier for the bobbles (the nose and eyebrows), so it’s doable for a relatively new knitter, but probably not an absolute beginner unless they have help on hand (or patience and youtube videos!).

The only thing I might have changed is that I found the legs a bit long once I had them sewn on. I decided I didn’t care enough to re-knit, but if I do this again I might think about taking out a row.

Also, as usual with amigurumi, don’t be afraid to experiment a bit with how you sew things on. A little movement can make things look way more cute or a bit uncanny, and I found this was especially true with the legs on this one: in some places, they made it look like spider gator!

Rippy and Chompy

Conclusion

In conclusion, great and interesting pattern that knits up quickly because it’s so small. I may make this one again!

Small Starry Sweater / Baby Astronomy Sweater

My friends are having their 2nd child, and since I actually kind of love making baby sweaters (so small! so cute!) I decided to prepare something to welcome her into the world.

Baby Astronomy Sweater

The Yarn

This sweater is actually the first thing I’ve made from my Rose City Yarn Crawl haul. The yarn crawl is a whirlwind weekend++ of yarn shopping. This year (2015) there were 15 shops in the Portland area participating. Believe it or not, that’s not even all the yarn shops in this area! I convinced a friend of mine to come out to Oregon for a visit just to do the crawl and have an excuse to see parts of the area I hadn’t visited yet.

I went a little overboard with the buying, since you got a free pattern (sometimes two!) in each store with purchase. But they had so many neat special “trunk shows” on and so many lovely yarns I’d never tried before, so I kind of bought a year’s worth of fun new experiences for myself, and I don’t regret that at all. Can you spot the yarn I used in the photo of my whole Rose City Yarn haul?

Rose City Yarn Haul

The yarn is Cascade Sunseeker, a 47% cotton/48% acrylic/5% metallic yarn blend. Colourway is “Nautical Blue” (22). The blend is a bit less stiff than many cottons, and less scratchy than many sparkly yarns. It’s not the softest thing I’ve ever worked with, but it’s got a nice balance of feel, look, and easy-care. And strangely, although Cascade is a very popular yarn mill, and I’ve made at least one pattern from their popular books, I think this may be the first thing I’ve made with their yarn! (but not the last: I even have another project completed from another blend of theirs, but it’s a christmas present so you won’t be seeing it for a while!)

I knew at the time of the crawl that I’d be making a baby sweater, but I hadn’t decided what it was going to look like exactly, despite having queued up a bunch of patterns so I’d have some idea of what yarn requirements I had for each. But when I saw the blue sparkly cotton yarn, I knew I wanted to try it for the baby sweater. Starry sweater!

Starry Sweater Sleeve

(I might just love stars. Hey, that second photo was taken on a trip with dad K!)

The dad of the incoming baby once said he’d like me to be a force for science in his kids’ lives. I don’t get to see the family much since I don’t live in the same country any more, but I try to think about that when I prepare gifts for his family. This has been awesome because it gives me an excuse to look at science toys everywhere and claim it’s research for the kids. (Most recently at the big Maker Faire in San Mateo!) My gifts haven’t been all that science-oriented yet since even the eldest is a bit young for some of the building toys that I’d like to get her. But that blue yarn said space, and astronomy is science, so thus the sweater was born!

The Pattern: Offest Wraplan

Offest Wraplan pattern link on ravelry

This pattern has a big warning saying it’s not tech edited, but lots of people have figured it out and I didn’t have too much trouble with it. I do remember there being something a bit weird about the way they handled the ribbing: I think the pattern was done where the ribbing is written with the right side flipping, so in one section you’re purling where you knit in another section, and it seems confusing or wrong until you sit down and work it through.

I made some changes to do a more mistake-rib style ribbing on it in the end, because I liked the way it looked in that yarn in my test swatch. That change was a bit annoying to translate because of the way the pattern reverses things so I had to flip where my twisted stitches were, but I figured it out.

The one thing I should say is that you should pay attention to the number of stitches you pick up for the front panel. When I picked up every one, I got this:

Slightly lopsided starry sweater

So I had to rip that back and try again, skipping a few stitches when I picked up to make it straight.

The details: Buttons!

I had originally planned for there to be a big star on the side of this sweater and then regular buttons, but when I saw the star buttons in the store I changed my plans:

Baby Astronomy Sweater

How cute are those?

I do feel a teensy bit guilty, though, as they’re a bit annoying to use in conjunction with the ribbing I chose. If I’d planned in advance, I could have chosen an edging that was smoother. But they’re so cute, and even after I realized the flaw I figured the cuteness was worth it. At least my friend’s a photographer and he’ll likely get a chance to admire the cuteness in family photos long after the experience of actually using the buttons has faded? (Dear K – I will not be offended if you use this as a pullover after trying to use the buttons once, and I’m sorry I sacrificed function for form. But they’re so cute!)

The details: Appliqué

But now I had a problem. If I put a shooting star on the side as I’d originally intended, would it be just too repetitive? Would I have to futz over making the star exactly match the buttons or it would drive me crazy?

I could have just left it as an offset sweater without appliqué, but that’s such a big space on the side there…

Baby Astronomy Sweater

I’m not the one who hit on the solution. I think it was either my friend M or my sister when we were on Teamspeak playing diablo/knitting/gossiping who suggested the crescent moon:

Baby Astronomy Sweater

And that’s at the point where it went from “Small Starry Sweater” to “Baby Astronomy Sweater.”

I was reminded that it’s a bit annoying to sew something perfectly smoothly onto unfelted knitting because the stitches provide texture that doesn’t line up with your appliqué, but I decided to go for “look handmade” with chunky embroidery stitches. It’s baby clothes, so it’s bound to get messed up anyhow! I do hope this one get re-purposed to doll clothing or something, though, it’s so cute and it’s a shame that at that size, it may only get worn once or twice before it’s outgrown. Ah well, that’s the risks of making baby clothes!

The details: fait avec amour

I’ve never really added clothing labels to the things I make, but I saw these cute “fait avec amour” labels on Knitpicks and thought they were too cute to pass up. I always am pleased when I see French down in the US at all, and the baby this is for has lots of francophones in her family tree!

And while I was at it, I figured I might as well add a washing instruction label. Never hurts to be sure of how you should care for a handknitted piece, although knowing her dad it was bound to be machine washed and dried no matter what!

Baby Astronomy Sweater

Conclusions

Yarn

The sparkles in this are absolutely amazing in person, and the yarn was easy to work with. I love how it holds crisp corners, so I think it was a good fit for this pattern even though there exist softer cottons I could have tried.

Pattern

Despite the dire warnings about tech editing, it’s not bad. Not entirely beginner-friendly, in my opinion, but fine if you don’t mind thinking your way through it and have enough experience reading patterns to do so. I love the shape of the final project with the wide neckline, and I liked the way it left space for my own themeing. You could make hundreds of these and not feel like any of them were really the same.

Overall

When I gave this to the family, big sis was kind of upset that this sweater wasn’t for her. (I wonder if I could scale up this sweater to her size and do it in some other pretty yarn…) It may be just the grabbiness of a (then) almost-two year old, but I take it to mean that the baby astronomy sweater is an object of desire. That’s good, right?

Whims of almost-two-year-olds aside, I liked this and will almost certainly make this pattern again!